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WSOP Branding Machine: Players are the Stars

Poker Player Newspaper - June 9, 2014 - 8:36am

by Wendeen H. Eolis

Hours before the curtain rose on the 2014 World Series of Poker summer festival, last minute wrangling amongst the WSOP collaborators was at a fever pitch as they settled into their respective positions of authority and influence on poker’s biggest stage at the Rio All Suites Hotel and Casino (Rio) in Las Vegas, Nevada.

The players are rarely aware of  the internal machinations , but sometimes they are unwittingly caught in the cross hairs of the varying entities  that vie for the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow,  compete to protect their respective brands and  pursue  decision-making authority,along the way.

Corporate Structure Creates Madness

Welcome to the world of complex corporate relationships and a business where the customer is not only the buyer but also the product. The corporate maze is anything but clear without a scorecard. For starters, the WSOP is owned by Caesars Interactive Entertainment ("CIE"), which is a subsidiary of Caesars Growth Partners, LLC, ("Caesars Growth") which is a joint venture between Caesars Acquisition Company (“CAC”) and Caesars Entertainment Corporation (“Caesars”). The Rio is wholly owned by Caesars.

And-----Caesars holds the controlling shares of Caesars Growth; 58% to 42% owned by CAC. Mitch Garber is the CEO of Caesars Growth Partners, CAQ and CIE and has a notable equity interest in the businesses he oversees. Garber sums up for me a crucial point in these entangled connections:" The WSOP has no economic interest in the Rio, but the Rio has an economic interest in the WSOP."

For those who crave a more finite understanding of these relationships or details that make more sense of the fancy structure, you are on your own! For the rest of us , suffice to say that the WSOP branding machine and the Rio operating team have natural reasons to lock horns as each seeks to pursue their own respective interests in the course of their collaborations.

The WSOP Team Players: Stewart, Greenbaum, and Effel

Ty Stewart, the Grand Pooh Bah of the WSOP and Howard Greenbaum, the longtime Caesars (formerly Harrahs) executive who oversees the WSOP tournament operations from on high could not be more different personalities in the gaming space, but each of them have played critical roles in the development of the WSOP and they share a penchant for working their magic largely behind the scenes.

As to who has the last word in any WSOP-related matter, the answer is exactly the same as in any other poker game, regardless of whether or not it is played with cards. It depends. There are two key protagonists: Stewart, Executive Director of the WSOP and a founding investor and Senior Vice President of CIE and Howard Greenbaum, Regional Vice President Specialty Gaming at Caesars Entertainment. Greenbaum's heart resides at the Rio, his longtime home base.

Stewart and Greenbaum share responsibility for Jack Effel, the man on the ground who is the ultimate "meeter and greeter" in the tournament rooms and the final decision-maker in the day-to day WSOP tournament operations. Effel is Director of the WSOP and Vice President of International Poker Operations. One of his friends tells me to think of him as the "Mayor of the WSOP." Jack warms up to this title. Stewart says, "Effel is The Man " in the tournament room, noting that "Effel is the guy with the gaming license--not me." Greenbaum is not intrusive on Effel's management of the tournaments. But he makes clear he is always ready to get in the trenches if Jack needs his help or support.

The Opening of the 2014 WSOP

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2014 WSOP Event #17 $1K Seniors No-Limit Hold'em Championship

Poker Player Newspaper - June 9, 2014 - 4:09am


by Joseph Smith Sr.

Las Vegas poker pro Dan Heimiller topped a record field of 4,425 players to win his second WSOP gold bracelet and $627,462 in cash.  He also gets to keep the Golden Eagle trophy until next year's Senior Event.  Heimiller's first gold bracelet came during the 2002 WSOP and he collected $108,300.  He has made 15 WSOP final tables and been in the money 40 times.  The largest purse collected prior to today's win was $300,000 for a seventh place finish in the European Poker Tour's PokerStars Caribbean Adventure.

Dan Heimiller has now amassed live tournament winnings totaling close to $4 million.  The poker journeyman's best WSOP Main Event finish occurred in 2002 when he was eliminated in the 43rd spot.  He also has cashed in the Main Event three times, in 2002, 2006 and 2007.

Heimiller had to battle from behind with second place finisher Donald Mass for much of the final table play.  He finally took the chip lead going into the heads-up match and enjoyed an almost 3 – 1 chip advantage.   Donald Maas received $388,462 for his runner up finish.  The event offered a prizepool of $3,982,500 and the top 468 finishers received a share of the purse.  

The following lists the nine final table player's order of finish and prize money each received.

  1. Dan Heimiller ---- $627,462

  2. Donald Maas ----- $388,462

  3. David Smith ------ $279,412

  4. Anthony Wise ---- $206,492

  5. Dennis Phillips --- $153,883

  6. David Tran -------- $115,651

  7. Barry Schwartz --- $87,615

  8. David Vida -------- $66,945

  9. Jim Custer --------- $51,573

Congratulations to Dan Heimiller for earning his second WSOP gold bracelet and collecting first place money in the 2014 WSOP's Event #17 Seniors Championship.

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2014 WSOP Event #15 $3K No-Limit Hold'em Six Handed

Poker Player Newspaper - June 8, 2014 - 8:26pm

by Joseph Smith Sr.

Event #14 filled with 810 entrants paying $3,000 for a seat and a stack of chips in the No-Limit Hold'em Six Handed tournament.  A prize pool of $2,211,300 scheduled to be paid out to the top 216 finishers and one WSOP gold bracelet going to the winner.

Scheduled to run three days the event required an extra day when the final table and heads-up played into the early Sunday morning.  The two heads-up players, Davidi Kitai and Gorden Vayo, finally ended the match after more than a hundred hands and numerous chip lead changesk  Davidi Katai, Belgium's first WSOP bracelet winner, takes home his thiord WSOP gold bracelet and $508,640 in cash.

Gorden Vayo showed plenty of poker moxie and demonstrated he could come from behind and take over the chip lead; but, this just wasn't destined to be his day and he settled for second place and $314,535 in prize money.

The following lists the final table six player's order of finish and prize money each collected.

  1. Davidi Kitai ---------  $508,640

  2. Gordon Vayo -------  $314,535

  3. Anthony Ruberto --- $200,476

  4. Mark Darner --------  $132,169

  5. John Andress -------- $89,734

  6. Zachary Korik ------  $62,690

Congratulations to Davidi Kitai for earning his third WSOP gold bracelet and collecting first place money in the 2014 WSOP's Event #14.

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2014 WSOP Event #16 $1,500 Limit 2-7 Triple Draw Lowball

Poker Player Newspaper - June 8, 2014 - 2:41am

by Joseph Smith Sr.

Todd Bui enjoyed a number of firsts in his life , all occurring within a few hours on Saturday at the WSOP being played at the Rio Las Vegas.  The Sacramento, California player, now relocated to Los Angeles where poker rooms are much more numerous and he can also be closer to his poker mentor, well respected J.C.Tran.

When Bui took his seat at the final table of WSOP event #16, Limit 2-7 Triple Draw Lowball, he had the second shortest chip stack.  Bui didn't see that as an impossible barrier but rather as a challenge to produce hands and stack chips.  And that's exactly what he did.  Most fans would never guess this was his first real poker tournament.  Todd Bui survived a field of 348 players to win his first WSOP gold bracelet and he collected his first tournament money, $124,510, from the prize purse totaling $469,800.

Heads-up he faced a poker veteran that has played many tournaments and enjoyed much success, Captain Tom Franklin.  Like we said, Todd Bui had a day of many firsts.

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2014 WSOP Event #14 $1,500 Limit Omaha Hi-Low Split-8 or Better

Poker Player Newspaper - June 7, 2014 - 4:14pm

by Joseph Smith Sr.

WSOP Event #14 began with 1,036 entrants paying a $1,500 buy-in to do battle across the felt and hopefully walk away with the $283,275 winner's share of the $1,398,600 prize pool and an elusive WSOP gold bracelet.  The game was Limit Omaha Hi-Low Split-8 or Better, a specialized variant of poker that's usually left to the pro players.

Nicholas Kost, originally from Michingan, but now calling Chicago home, outlasted the field and claimed the top prize along with his first WSOP gold bracelet.  His efforts included a come from behind heads-up match with runner up Kal Raichura that lasted into the wee hours of Saturday morning.

Crowd favorite and defending champion Calen McNeil, finished in 4th place.  Also present was 2004 WSOP Main Event champion, Greg Raymer, demonstrating his continuing poker skills with a seat at the final table and his 7th place finish to collect $33,510.

The following list the final table nine order of finish and prize money awarded.

  1. Nicholas Kost ---------- $283,275

  2. Kal Raichura ----------- $175,300

  3. Jim Bucci --------------- $109,678

  4. Calen McNeil ---------- $79,608

  5. Alexander Luneau ----- $58,769

  6. Steve Chanthabouasy - $44,055

  7. Greg Raymer ----------- $33,510

  8. Adam Coats ------------ $25,832

  9. Konstantin Puchkov --- $20,181


Congratulations to Nick Kost for his first WSOP bracelet and event win at the 2014 WSOP. 

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2014 WSOP Event #13 $10,000 No-Limit 2-7 Draw Lowball Championship

Poker Player Newspaper - June 6, 2014 - 2:36pm

by Joseph Smith Sr.

Another World Series of Poker $10K championship played to a conclusion at the Rio in Las Vegas.  With a who's who of poker final table the event proved to be a crowd pleaser.  When winner, Paul Volpe, faced the ever popular KidPoker, Daniel Negreanu, the fans settled in for what would prove to be a play lesson in tournament poker.

The chip leader coming into the final table, Paul Volpe, was the only player of the seven at the table that had not won a WSOP bracelet.  With the likes of Negreanu, Jason Mercier, Brian Rast, Abe Mosseri, John Monnette and Larry Wright taking a final table seat the man without a bracelet appeared to be facing some serious uphill odds even with the chip lead.

When the final heads-up hand played out the Paul Volpe's J-10 drew a 3 while Negreanu's J - nothing caught paint with a Q and the match was over.  Paul Volpe joined his fellow final table players as a WSOP bracelet holder.  He also collected $253,524 for the win and bragging rights for a WSOP Championship.

Event #13 with a $10,000 buy-in attracted 87 entrants vying for a prize pool of $817,800.

The following lists the final table player's order of finish and prize money collected.

  1. Paul Volpe -------- $253,524

  2. Daniel Negreanu - $156,675

  3. Jason Mercier ----- $99,313

  4. Brian Rast --------- $67,264

  5. Larry Wright ------ $47,792

  6. John Monnette ---- $35,549

  7. Abe Mosseri  ------ $27,633

Congratulations to Paul Volpe for his Championship win and first WSOP bracelet.

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2014 WSOP Event #12 $1,500 Pot Limit Hold'em

Poker Player Newspaper - June 6, 2014 - 2:32pm

by Joseph Smith Sr.

Gregory Kolo needed only six hands during the heads-up play with second place finisher Kazu Oshima before he owned all the chips and had staked a claim on the WSOP gold bracelet.  When Oshima's spade flush and straight draw didn't materialize on the river he tried to run a bluff that didn't fool Kolo sitting with two pair.

Kolo collected  $169,225 from the $751,950 prize pool after outlasting the other 556 players.  Gregory Kolo calls Rock River, Ohio as his hometown.  

The following list the final table nine order of finish and money collected.

  1. Gregory Kolo ------- $169,225

  2. Kazu Oshima -------- $104,513

  3. Dean Bui ------------- $74,134

  4. David Martirosyan – $53,328

  5. Tom McCormick ---- $38,898

  6. Daniel Goldman ----- $28,769

  7. Ahmed Amin --------- $21,565

  8. Ryan Schoonbaert --- $16,384

  9. Phil Collins ----------- $12,610

Congratulations to Gregory Kolo for his first WSOP bracelet and event #12 win.

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2014 WSOP Event #11 $1,500 No-Limit Hold'em Six Handed

Poker Player Newspaper - June 6, 2014 - 12:56am


by Joseph Smith Sr.

Justin Bonomo collected almost half a million dollars and his first WSOP bracelet that certainly helps him forget that 2nd place finish in the Limit 2-7 Triple Draw Championship event a few days ago.  

Bonomo begin heads-up play with second place finisher, Mike Sowers, looking at a 4-1 chip disadvantage, but after one level of play Bonomo had pulled even with Sowers.  Using the momentum swing to his advantage, Justin Bonomo never looked back and within the hour he had all the chips and his first World Series of Poker bracelet.

The $1,500 buy-in event attracted 1,587 players and offered a prize pool of $2,142,450.  Justin Bonomo returns home to Glendale, Colorado with $449,980 for his winning finish.  Mike Sowers of Charlotte, North Carolina takes away $278,518 as first runner-up.     

The following lists the final table six players order of finish and money won.

  1. Justin Bonomo ------ $449,980

  2. Mike Sowers -------- $278,518

  3. Daniel Strelitz ------  $180,587

  4. Lance Harris --------  $119,977

  5. Niel Mittelman -----  $80,341

  6. Taylor Paur ---------- $55,703

Congratulations to Justin Bonomo for his win and his first WSOP bracelet.

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2014 WSOP Event #10 $10,000 Limit Omaha Hi-Low Split-8 or Better

Poker Player Newspaper - June 5, 2014 - 7:49pm


by Joseph Smith Sr.

Brock Parker walks away with the $443,407 in cash and another gold WSOP bracelet for his winning finish in the WSOP Event #10 $10,000 Limit Omaha Hi-Low Split-8 or Better Championship.  Parker has already won two WSOP bracelets, both from Hold'em events, but, this is his first from an event other than Hold'em.  


He has made ten final tables in his ten years of playing in the World Series of Poker and made the final table of a $4,500 Razz event earlier this year's WSOP.  Adding this championship and the prior final table places Brock Parker in t5he lead for the WSOP Player of the Year.

This second of thirteen scheduled $10,000 championship events attracted a blue ribbon list of poker players among the 178 entrants.  A prize pool of $1,673,200 was paid out to the top 18 finishers.  Among the notables were Eli Elezra, Perry Friedman and Jeff Lisandro.

Second Place finisher, Richard Asby, and Brock Parker fought a toe-to-toe slug fest to the delight of the fans with neither of the opponents giving an inch.  Finally, Parker held all the chips and the championship.  Included in the final table nine were two women, Melissa Burr and Shirley Rosario, whose presents made for a rare occurrence at a WSOP final table.   

The following list the final table players and their order of finish and money received:

  1. Brock Parker --------- $443,407

  2. Richard Ashby ------- $274,019

  3. OfirMor --------------- $198,058

  4. Shirley Rosario ------- $146,522

  5. Viatcheslav Ortynskiy-$110,113

  6. Jason McPherson ----- $84,195

  7. Steve Lustig ----------- $65.472

  8. Melissa Burr ----------- $51,768

  9. Dan Kelly -------------- $41,595

Congratulations to Brock Parker for his championship win and third WSOP bracelet.

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2014 WSOP Event #9 $1000 No Limit Hold'em

Poker Player Newspaper - June 5, 2014 - 2:42am

by Joseph Smith Sr.


Jeffrey Smith won his first World Series of Poker bracelet when his trip nines topped Danny Nguyen's failed heart draw.  Smith won $323,125, more than enough to buy a lifetime supply of gold polish.  Nguyen hauled away $199,829 for second place.

The Encinitas, California poker player's best WSOP finish prior to this win was in the 2013 Millionairer Maker event when he left in 605th place and collected $2,704.  Smith and Nguyen played heads-up for three hours while alternating the chip lead before Smith finally put together the set to win it all.

The $1,000 buy-in event offered a $1,746,000 prize pool to the 1,940 entrants.  The following list the final table nine's order of finish and cash awarded:


  1. Jeffrey Smith -------- $323,125

  2. Nghiahiep Nguyen -- $199,829

  3. Frank Patti -----------  $138.160

  4. John Fontana --------  $99,644

  5. Chris Haugo ---------  $72,843

  6. Chris Hunichen ------ $53,951

  7. Brad Libson ---------- $40,489

  8. David Inselberg ------ $30,781

  9. Jorge Vergara --------- $23,693

Congratulations to Jeffrey Smith for his win and new WSOP gold bracelet. 

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2014 WSOP Event #8 A $1500 No Limit Hold'em Millionaire Maker

Poker Player Newspaper - June 5, 2014 - 12:59am

by Joseph Smith Sr.

The World Series of Poker event #8 is a $1,500 buy-in No Limit Hold'em affair that guarantees the winner will collect a minimum of one million dollars hence the added moniker Millionaire Maker.  The 2014 version of this event drew 7,977 entries to become the second largest field ever at a WSOP event.  The largest was the 2006 Main Event that seated 8,773 players.

The eventual winner, Jonathan Dimmig collected not only his million dollars but an aditional $319,587 as a result of the very large field and prize pool totaling $10,768,950.  Dimmig hails from Buffalo, New York where he enjoys playing hockey and working on a novel project.  His best prior cash was a $11,000 oayday in a WSOP Circuit event.  He has never cashed in a WSOP event here in Las Vegas although he has played the Main Event the last three years.  Jonathan Dimmig not only became a millionaire but he also collected his first WSOP gold bracelet.

The final table required almost twelve hours to produce a winner.  All of the players at the table collected six figure money.  Dimmig's win was also the 2014 WSOP's first seven figure payout.  Among the huge field was some well known players including Andy Bloch, Layne Flack, Mike Sexton and Humberto Brenes.  The event paid out to the top 819 finishers.

Following is a list of the final table players order of finish and prize money awarded:

  1. Jonathan Dimmig --- $1,319,587

  2. Jeff Coburn ---------- $815,963

  3. James Duke ---------- $614,368

  4. Andrew Teng -------- $465,972

  5. Bradley Anderson --- $355,913

  6. Stephen Graner ------ $273,854

  7. Jason Johnson -------- $211,394

  8. Andrew Dick --------- $164,118

  9. Maurice Hawkins ---- $128,150

Congratulatios to Poker's latest millionaire, Jonathan Dimmig.

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Download and Read the Poker Player Digital Edition for June 16th, 2014 (Vol. 17 Number 26)

Poker Player Newspaper - June 4, 2014 - 3:09pm

Download the June 16th Digital edition PDF of Poker Player Newspaper.

Feature Story 
WSOP Grand Pooh Bah: Ty Stewart From Las Vegas To Macau With Love Always In Mind by Wendeen H. Eolis

Featured Strategy:
Mike Caro - Today's Word is PUMPKIN by Mike Caro

Tournament Results:
World Series of Poker Events 1 thru 7

Erik Velie Wins Bike’s Deepstacks Poker Tour Main Event

AND MUCH MORE, Download the new Issue PDF now!

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Wendeen H. Eolis

World Series of Poker

September 4, 2014 - 10:31am
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